SYRIARebel forces make more gains in north
Syrian rebels fully captured a northern town near the Turkish border after weeks of heavy fighting and attacked a regime air base in a neighboring province, activists said. The air base is in Aleppo province, where opposition fighters have already captured three other large military bases in recent months. Rebels have also laid siege to the international airport in the city of Aleppo, Syria's commercial capital, and launched an offensive on the police academy near the city.
UNITED STATESNetflix says streaming is back to normal
Those hoping to spend the holiday watching streaming video from Netflix got back in front of their TVs, tablets and PCs after a Christmas Eve outage. A Netflix Inc. spokesman said by e-mail that the service has been fully restored. The outage affected customers in the Americas starting around 2:30 p.m. CST on Monday. The company, which is based in Los Gatos, Calif., blamed problems with Amazon Web Services and said it is investigating further. Amazon Web Services provides companies with online storage and computing. Amazon said that problems with its service have also now been fixed.
VENEZUELAChavez up and around, vice president says
Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro surprised Venezuelans with a Christmas Eve announcement that President Hugo Chavez is up and walking two weeks after cancer surgery in Cuba, but the news did little to ease uncertainty surrounding the leader's condition. Sounding giddy, Maduro told state television Venezolana de Television that he had spoken by phone with Chavez for 20 minutes Monday night. It was the first time a top Venezuelan government official had confirmed talking personally with Chavez since the Dec. 11 operation, his fourth cancer surgery since 2011. "He was in a good mood," Maduro said. "He was walking, he was exercising."
JERUSALEMMore Jewish housing units given approval
The Jerusalem district planning committee has granted approval to build another 1,200 housing units in Gilo, expanding the Jewish neighborhood built on Jerusalem-area land seized by Israel in 1967. It was the latest in a series of similar development decisions after the United Nations vote in November granting the Palestinian Authority nonmember observer state status. Committee member Moshe Montag told Israel Radio that the plan had been submitted more than a year ago but had been blocked for diplomatic reasons. "Unfortunately, it takes a drama, terror attack or U.N. vote to release construction in Jerusalem," Montag said.
CHINADriver runs down 13 high school students
A man who was angry over a court ruling in the case of his daughter's murder used his car to run down a group of high school students in northern China, causing 13 to be hospitalized with injuries, the local government and the state news media reported. It was the second major attack on students in China in less than two weeks. The man, Yin Tiejun, 48, ran down 23 students at the school in Fengning County, in Hebei province, during their lunch break Monday, Xinhua, the state news agency, reported. He then tried to set fire to his car by igniting a container of diesel fuel. Xinhua quoted police as saying he was upset that the court did not sentence all his daughter's killers to death. Yin has been detained on charges of endangering public safety. One of the students was hospitalized with a subarachnoid hemorrhage, a serious head injury, while another had two broken ankles and a third had a concussion, the local government said.
FROM NEWS SERVICES
ZUMA: MANDELA 'LOOKING MUCH BETTER'
President Jacob Zuma of South Africa gave a largely upbeat assessment of the health of Nelson Mandela, the nation's first black president and anti-apartheid icon, who has spent more than two weeks in the hospital for a lung infection and gallstones. Zuma said in a statement that Mandela, 94, "is looking much better" and "the doctors are happy with the progress he is making." He visited Mandela on Christmas morning at a Pretoria hospital. Mandela has been in frail health, and his latest hospitalization has been the longest since he was released from prison in 1990.